Growth Mindset Parenting Tip: Controlling Reactions

By Rebekah Anderson, School Counselor

I want to share with you my favorite equation…

 

E + R = O

 

Event + Response = Outcome

 

I think that this is such an important concept for us to understand, implement in our lives, and then teach our children.

 

I’ve heard so many kids say that because they are a child, they have no control over their lives.

This is a big thing to feel and even a harder thing to accept and live with if you believe it.

 

There are so many things and “events” that they CANNOT control like the weather, how others think, what others do, what others say, death, divorce, if they get picked for a team, etc.

They CAN control their attitude, behavior and “response” in any given situation.

 

The response to an event is what determines our outcome.

This is a hard concept for some to accept because there are hard things that happen in life.

If we want to be the victor of our circumstances and not the victim, then our response and mindset is key.

 

But how do we help our children to understand this pretty complex concept?

I love this simple analogy from Big Life Journal:

 

“Ask your child to close their eyes and imagine the color RED.

Then ask them to imagine the color BLUE.

You can say, ‘It looks like you were able to direct your mind to imagine the color you wanted.  Was it easy for you to do that?’

 

Now ask them to close their eyes again and imagine a circle, then a square, then a triangle.
Then, point out that they were able to direct their mind to think about and imagine certain things.

 

Then you can say, ‘Similarly, we can direct our brain to think a certain way when someone says something unkind or something happens that we don’t like.  We can practice directing our brain and our brain will get better and better at reacting the way we want it to react-the way that makes us feel better.’

 

Try this simple exercise so that your children start understanding that they are able to direct their minds and choose better feeling thoughts and also get better with practice.”

 

I highly recommend that you start implementing Event + Response = Outcome in your own life before you teach it to your children.  Put it in a place as a reminder of the power of your response.  When hard situations or conversations come up that are out of your control, focus on what you can control: your response.  Allow yourself to be the student before you are the teacher!

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